Paralympic Games medallist Bridie Kean called out of retirement for a last chance qualifier for Paris 2024 | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Bridie called out of retirement for a last chance Paralympic qualifier in Japan

Paralympic Games medallist and UniSC lecturer in Public Health, Dr Bridie Kean, has been called out of retirement for a do-or-die tournament in Japan, as Australia's national women's wheelchair basketball team – the Gliders – have one last chance to qualify for Paris 2024.

The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) Repechage Tournament in Japan will feature eight teams, with the top four earning a place at the Paralympics in August. Australia is grouped with Germany, Thailand and Algeria. The other group is Spain, France, Canada and Japan.

"The last time I played for Australia was in 2015," Dr Kean said.

"I was a postgrad student at UniSC combining sport and study, training out of our stadium. It is a privilege to be called back to the National team for this tournament and I have loved being back on our court at UniSC which has been an incredible environment to train for this event.”

Bridie and members of the Gliders squad during a training camp at UniSC Arena

Having experienced the "intensity of three Paralympic qualification tournaments," Dr Kean hopes her experience can be used to support her teammates on and off court.

"There is so much on the line at a repechage tournament and we will be doing everything we can to be able to return to Australia with a ticket to Paris 2024 secured for the Australian Gliders,” she said.

The Gliders turned to experienced players for the upcoming final tilt at qualification, bringing in Bridie Kean and Kylie Gauci – both of whom are Paralympic Games medallists – as well as emerging star Laura Davoli, alongside the experienced Shelley Matheson, who returned to the team late last year.

Head coach Craig Campbell said the injection of experience would provide stability in the high-stakes competition.

“Bridie captained the Gliders when they last won a medal in London, and Shelley and Kylie are both three-time Paralympic medallists, so between the three of them, there is around 1,000 games of international experience,” Campbell said.

Also on the Gliders squad is UniSC graduate Hannah Dodd.

"I'm looking forward to playing with Hannah, one of our most decorated student athletes to graduate from UniSC,” Dr Kean said.

“The Australian Gliders program means a lot me and I just love our game so much.

"It’s going to be an honour to play for Australia with my teammates Shelley and Kylie 17 years after I played my first game for Australia with them by my side.”

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